High Five for Friday

Finally... a weekend where we have NO plans is almost here! I have been waiting for this. I have been on the go every weekend for months now and I'm looking forward to sleeping in and doing whatever I want. This week was pretty good. With the exception of Monday, it poured buckets here all week and looking ahead in the forecast... no dry weather in sight. Oh well, that just means I can get some things checked off of my indoor "to do" list. Here is a recap of our week.

I have been busy researching and making plans for our trip coming up this June. If you have any "must see" places please share them with me. We will be staying in Tampa (with family), Savannah, Charleston, DC, New York City, Portland Maine and Boston
Amelia once again loved her ice skating lesson. I can't believe how much she has improved in just three weeks. I'm glad she is doing ballet and ice skating... she just loves both so much.

We took advantage of the one sunny day and spent the afternoon at the park with Amelia and the littles I watch. It was beautiful out. 

I had a custom Etsy order of un-paper towels to work on this week. I hadn't done a cherry print set before and I just love how they turned out. So cute!

 Amelia and I spent some time playing house this week. Love having a daughter!!!

And how cute are these two... rubbing noses.
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Ashley Elizabeth

One of my favorite moments happens in the middle of the night

When Amelia was born everything was new. Each milestone, big or small, was mesmerizing and worth telling everyone about. Each little smile, laugh, pouty face, roll over, crawl etc. was an amazing moment for us as parents. As she is growing up I realize that we spend our days praising her for her good actions, for learning new things and for being a great helper... but the days of her being a baby are long gone. At five years old, Amelia is an amazing child. She has the sweetest heart, does kind things for others without being asked and is so intelligent. It's hard though at this stage to find the joy in every little thing. She is stubborn (like her Mommy and Daddy), she likes to argue her point and sometimes I don't think her ears work when we try to tell her something. There is one moment in every day though where I am reminded that she is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to us. One moment where I realize that I need to slow down our busy life and take every little thing she does, whether she is arguing with me over what she wants for lunch or secretly crafting gifts for me, and enjoy it all.

I usually get up once in the middle of every night. When I head back toward bed I like to sneak into Amelia's room and give her a kiss on the forehead. Without fail, each and every time I do it, she smiles. She doesn't wake up, but she smiles the sweetest smile. Everything at that moment is perfect and I am reminded as to why I love every good, and stressful, thing that comes with being a Mommy. Parenting is not always easy, but it is definitely worth it.

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Ashley Elizabeth

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

I'm always looking for quick and healthy snacks. Something I can throw together easily for myself or the little kids I watch. I love eating cut up veggies with hummus, but sometimes I get a little burnt out on hummus. I love dipping veggies in ranch, but let's face it... ranch is far from healthy. This dip is quick and tasty to make, and an improvement over store bought ranch.

1 single serve container of plain Greek yogurt
ranch dip seasoning packet of your choice - There are several brands to choose from

Mix in a spoonful of the ranch seasoning into the yogurt container. I usually start with 1-2 teaspoons and then add to more to taste if needed. You can eat this dip right away with cut up veggies, or refrigerate for a later time.

Quick and Easy!!!
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Ashley Elizabeth

Raising A Born Vegetarian

When Amelia was born she did not come out with a tag on her that said 'vegetarian baby', but she was definitely born a vegetarian. I should use the correct term for the type of vegetarian she is... Ovo-lacto vegetarianism. Now I know she is still little and her tastes will more than likely change hundreds of times in her life... but for now, this is where we find her.

(ovo-lacto vegetarianism: a vegetarian who does not eat animal flesh of any kind, but consumes dairy and egg products - source Wikipedia)

Mark and I made all of Amelia's baby food. I think we bought around 15 jars of baby food total. Baby food is incredibly easy to make. We steamed a lot of vegetables, made up blended fruit mixtures and even tried throwing some rice and meat in there. As a baby she ate everything... everything except meat. I tried homemade baby food with chicken and I bought jars of baby food with meat. She would take one bite and spit it out, even if the mixture had other things she loved. We don't push meat on her or try to make her choke it down. She's just a vegetarian at the moment, and we are fine with that.

A lot of people ask how we maintain a healthy diet for someone so little who doesn't eat a lot of things. She is fairly picky in general, but she eats well and is incredibly healthy. Finding other forms of protein for her has been a priority. She doesn't like nuts, but she likes nut butters. She doesn't like scrambled eggs, but she will eat the whites of a hard boiled egg. She also hates a lot of things that most little kids love, such as pizza and most pastas. She does try new foods often, but refuses to try anything with meat. It would definitely be easier if she was a meat eater since Mark and I both eat meat, but we're okay it as long as she gets all of the nutrients and vitamins that she needs and is a healthy little girl.

Our go to protein for Amelia: 
peanut butter or almond butter
hard boiled eggs (whites only)
yogurt (usually Greek yogurt)
milk (she gets one cup in the mornings)

Typical day for Amelia:
Breakfast: yogurt, cereal with milk or toast with nut butter and fruit
Snack: cheese, apple, carrots, lettuce (plain without dressing)
Lunch: pb&j, crackers with peanut butter, veggies and fruit, green smoothie, eggs
Snack: fruit leather, cheese, avocado
Dinner: a combination of any of the above stuff.

I know a lot of parents have their children eat whatever they eat, regardless of whether or not they like it. Each situation is different and each parent needs to do what's right for their child. This is just what works for us. Mark and I do eat a lot of chicken and we could try forcing her to eat it with us, but I'm more concerned with her eating a healthy meal than her eating meat. If it was something she had liked, but had only recently turned her nose up... I would probably approach the situation differently. This little girl has hated all meat since she was 6 months, so we adjust accordingly.

A couple of questions for my amazing readers...
Any other parents out there with vegetarian children? How do you ensure they have healthy meals?

Any meatless recipes with a lot of protein you'd care to share?
Ashley Elizabeth

Friday Friday Friday!!!

Happy Friday! I was off today to take care of a family matter so it's a three day weekend for this girl. This afternoon Amelia and I had some free time so we went out and did a little shopping. I adopted a soldier (a blog post on this is in the works for next week) so we went out and shopped for him. My photography class final was due last weekend so I now have weekends free... which is awesome. I really enjoyed my class and learned so much. I got an incredibly nice email from my teacher and I'm still so excited with what she had to say... I mean, she said I'm an awesome photographer. Seriously... her email made my day! Super amazing compliments from such an incredible teacher. So, now I plan on continuing to learn and practice in hopes of one day making it a thing. It's been a long time coming. I took my first photography class (dark room development) in 2005 and knew back then I wanted to go beyond that. Anyway, here's a recap of our week. It was incredibly hectic in the daycare department this week. I will be glad when the nice weather sticks around and the munchkins and I get to spend the majority of our time outdoors.

 1. I went ahead a pre-ordered Frozen last month but didn't tell Amelia. She was so excited when it arrived on our doorstep Tuesday morning and I'm pretty sure we've watched it a hundred times since.
 2. This week Amelia became obsessed with my shoes. She walks all over the house wearing them.

3. Amelia and I had a fun day out this afternoon. We went to Barnes & Noble to get her a new book and then Target after. What would I do without her?

4. I've been getting more merchandise in for my online children's boutique that will be opening soon (hopefully in the next couple of months). I really want to start selling the items and getting the shop out there so people know about it. HELP... how should I go about doing this? I know a lot of people use Facebook and Instagram, but I'm not sure which direction to take with this until my website is fully developed. Any suggestions????? I want to just PayPal invoice so maybe I could set it up here on the blog? I'm at a loss at what I want to do so help a girl out :) 

5. I'm super excited that we've had some nice spring days here. And I'm also super excited I found some cute overalls for Amelia. The toddler ones are so baggy and usually end up too short. I found these as an XS in the girls department and they are just what I was looking for. Long and fitted. overalls: Gap, tshirt: Nordstrom, shoes: Nordstrom Rack.
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Ashley Elizabeth

Ballet, Ice Skating and Photography (weekend recap)

This weekend was BUSY! We were on the go both Saturday and Sunday and I need a weekend after my weekend.

Saturday Amelia had a make up ballet class in the morning and then ice skating in the afternoon. I was so glad I got to take her to ballet. My daycare schedule doesn't allow me to go anymore so Mark usually takes her. Ice skating was great! I couldn't believe how much she improved from last week. She was the only one in her class that didn't fall down! So proud of her.

This weekend I also had to turn in my final photography assignment which was Self Portraits. It was a hard assignment to accomplish in the short amount of time I had. It didn't turn out exactly how I wanted, but I was pleased. Here are two of the photos I submitted. I had to create a story of my life through a series of photos. I'm going to miss this class, but I'm excited to have my weekends back. It took a lot out of my family time. 

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Ashley Elizabeth

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday! It's been a great week and we have an incredibly busy weekend ahead. We had to reschedule Amelia's ballet lesson for Saturday, which is also the day she has ice skating lessons, so she will be on the go from 11 until 3. It's a good thing she is such a trooper and loves doing both so much. I also have my final photography assignment due, a series of self portraits that tell a story of my life. I'm excited to get the assignment shot and submitted.

First I want to share with you some incredibly exciting news!!! It has been a work in progress, but this Spring I will be launching an online children's clothing boutique. Here is a sneak peak of one of the items I will have in the store. I'm so anxious that I might launch a little earlier than my website and have items available either on this blog or on Instagram.

Now on to a recap of our week.

1. This girl is the sweetest thing. I am amazed every day at how kind, polite and well-behaved she is. I can take this girl anywhere and she is always on her best behavior. She has also been extremely helpful around the house, even when she isn't asked to be. The other day I found her in the kitchen emptying the entire dishwasher all by herself, heavy glass dishes and all.

2. I was served a delicious bowl of grass and flower soup. A true sign that spring is near.

3. This worm came wandering along the kid's sidewalk chalk mural the other day and it caused quite a commotion. First there were screams from both, then a lot of "EWWWWW"s and then lying on the ground to watch it before finally touching it. Who knew a single worm could entertain two kids for over an hour.

4. We spent several days outside enjoying the nice weather. It was a little chilly, but so nice to enjoy the outdoors.

5. I took my 5 year old to her annual check-up today. This was her treat of choice after getting a shot... only the best chocolate milk ever! Her doctor was quite impressed with our little lady. He hadn't seen her at all this year (with the exception of one appointment to get an asthma inhaler last spring) and he grabbed her little face and said "Let me take a look at this little cutie... so cute". Yeah, we love our doctor. She is 50th percentile for weight, but in the 80th percentile for height. They did a quick eye exam and recommended that we take her into an eye doctor since she didn't see as much as she should have during their test. Overall it was a great trip to the doctor. Hopefully we won't have to go in again until next year.

What are your plans for the weekend?

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Ashley Elizabeth

Ice Skating

Saturday Amelia started ice skating lessons. I felt like the worst mommy ever. She didn't want to get on the ice because she was afraid of falling. Since it wasn't hockey lessons and she wasn't in pads it scared her. I handed her to one of the teachers and apologized for the tears that were going on. I didn't really feel too bad though because there were others crying. She got on the ice and was nervous, but I guess the fear of falling really helped her learn how to balance. Toward the end of class she fell once on her bottom and realized it didn't hurt... and we were all smiles after that. She's super excited for next week and one of the teachers said she was doing great by the end of class. So cute!!!

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Ashley Elizabeth

My Sleeping Girl

I started writing a post on Amelia's sleep routine, but I hadn't finished getting all of my thoughts down yet. When I saw a new link up from Oh So Amelia with a topic of bedtime routines I thought it would be the perfect time to finish this post.
Before Amelia was born I knew I wasn't going to sleep train her or put her on any sort of schedule. Now I know some people swear that this is the only way to raise a child, but I beg to differ. Mark and I both had incredibly busy schedules when Amelia was born. I was working full time and Mark was going to school 6 days a week and working on top of that. Since I got home from work at 6 the idea of putting Amelia to sleep an hour or two after just wasn't something I wanted to do. Those hours were the only time during the week I really got to play with her, snuggle her, read to her and make memories with her. I put her to sleep around the time that I would go to bed. I didn't put her to bed in a completely dark and quiet room and because of this she can still go to sleep, and stay asleep, when it is quiet or noisy and when the sun comes up early during those summer months (which is awesome for camping). This also made it incredibly easy for her to nap anywhere during the day, and I think naps are incredibly important for kids. Amelia didn't stop taking naps until she was 4, and even now she takes one if she is tired during the day. I think it is important that a child sleeps when they are tired, even if it goes against their schedule. I've read a lot of articles on the benefits of sleep training and how children should be put on strict sleep schedules... I just never saw the benefit of forcing a screaming child to stay in their crib because it wasn't their scheduled time to wake up. In my opinion, babies don't need to be "trained".
New parents are always told "sleep when the baby sleeps". Instead I watched her sleep or snuggled her. They're only little once. Cherish every moment, even if you're sleep deprived.  
I nursed Amelia until she was 18 months. I would wake up with her a couple of times each night to feed her. If she slept through those feedings, I would wake up to pump instead (gotta keep the milk supply up... even if it makes for a tired Mama). Amelia often slept with us. It really made those 2am feedings easier on a nursing Mama. We always made sure to take every precaution when she slept in our bed to ensure her safety. I have the fondest memories dozing off while her tiny little hand wrapped around one of my fingers.
A middle of the night photo of my girl and I after nursing her.
I love the flexibility we have with Amelia. If we want to hang out at my sister's house until 11pm, we can and Amelia is fine. She's not cranky if we wake her up early, she can take a nap in the evening and then sleep through the night and we still get to enjoy the things in life that happen after 7pm without her throwing some sort of tantrum due to exhaustion.
A little girl sleeping with curlers in is the CUTEST!
Amelia will start school in the Fall and I plan on using the summer to slowly get her on a schedule (after our trip). I definitely feel it is important when children are in school that a routine is established and that they are getting enough sleep. Right now Amelia usually goes to bed when I do and wakes up between 9:30 and 10:30 in the morning. Occasionally she will wake up when I do (6-6:30am) and on those days she takes a late afternoon nap.
Tinkerbell taking an early evening nap after playing hard all day
We plan on eventually having more children, and when we do they won't be put on strict schedules either until they get ready to start school. I'm sure they will also end up in bed with us, just as Amelia did. I know I'm breaking every parenting book rule, but i don't parent from books... I parent from instinct and have always felt much better about our decisions.
A little post rodeo nap
Ashley Elizabeth

Where I Come From #3

Welcome to Where I Come From, my monthly link-up designed as a way for us bloggers to share with our readers a little bit about the places we call home. This can be the place you were born, the place you grew up, the place you live now or any place in between. I love reading posts that highlight the areas a blogger comes from. For me it's like taking a virtual vacation. The link up will be live for the rest of the month and I'll try including it in my Friday posts so that others can come back here to check it all out.

Where I Come From

Today I am going to take you to the Oregon Coast. Our beaches here aren't sweltering hot in the summer and we don't have palm trees, but we do have a beautiful coast. We get nice warm weather during the summer, and it is occasionally quite hot (for Oregon standards), but my favorite weather on the coast is when it is really stormy. I love staying in a room right on the beach and just snuggling up while the ocean and wind howls. It is quite breathtaking at times, and other times it is quite dreary with the rainy weather, but I really love our coast. 

Ashley Elizabeth